tv Titans at the Table Bloomberg January 25, 2014 9:00am-9:31am EST
>> power, leadership, impact. billionaires who are changing the world. on a special "titans at the table," we chat with microsoft chairman bill gates. he is the world's richest person and with that great wealth comes great responsibility. he wants to destroy the myth that poverty and disease can't be eradicated. >> joining gates, a friend and fellow philanthropist, the bloomberg lp founder and former new york city mayor, michael bloomberg. >> there are fewer people starving, fewer people sleeping without a roof over their head. things are better. >> in the bill and linda gates
foundation, gates predicts that by 2035 there will be almost no poor nations left in the world. coming up, we hear what these titans are doing to see that through. bill, i read through your letter and what i noticed in the town was that you are very optimistic. you say look, we are better off than we were decades ago. where does this optimism come from? >> i think i am naturally optimistic but also the facts are on the side of the optimist. it is dangerous that people are focusing on the bad news and not seeing the progress we have made. it means they don't look at the best practices. it makes them less generous. we are raising poor countries up. most people live in middle income countries now. there is more to be done on agriculture, but the track record success, if you don't see that you are not going to participate in what we need to do. >> you say that there will be no
poor nations by 2035. >> almost none. landlocked countries in africa, north korea if they don't change the government, but it will be less than 10. when i was born, almost all countries were poor. now we are down to about one quarter of them. the next 20 years, if we focus on it, we can make it really exceptional. >> mike, you donated last year about $100 million to the bill gates foundation to eradicate polio. do you share the same optimism as bill? >> i couldn't be more in agreement. one of the things people mess is that advocates seldom want to acknowledge success. they always want to have more to do, raise more money, be more important. bill is 100% right. there are fewer people starving, fewer people sleeping without a roof over their head. fewer people that are illiterate. let expectancy is generally longer. by any rational measure, things are better.
that doesn't mean everyplace or every person and there will always be a bottom 20% and we will always redefine what that means, but to say that all of the foreign aid and the moneys that the bill and linda gates foundation or bloomberg or lots of other generous people have invested, hasn't done anything -- that is just not true. we have a guy, a doctor in africa who is trying to get numbers and find out what people are dying from. if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. we don't know. a lot of times you look at birth certificates that will say act of god. that doesn't tell you where you want to put your money to save people's lives. bill and linda working on polio, this is the chance of really eradicating this disease like smallpox or both of us working on malaria, things like vitamin a deficiency that cause half a million people to go blind permanently every year, there is an awful lot of new science, new ways of distributing and
progress. they have never shied away from taking on the impossible tasks. it turns out that complex problems don't have simple answers. the compact problems aren't unsolvable either. >> one of the myths about foreign aid or one of the perceptions is that so much aid goes to governments in africa. and that they waste that eight or it gives corrupt regimes a pass to not having the things they need to do. what do you say to that? >> historically, during the cold war, there was a lot of money labeled aid that was really friendship money to make sure the bad guy was our bad guy versus the soviet bad guy. nobody expected that human lives would improve dramatically there. now, we don't have that agenda. we can go in and say, what will this do for nutrition, for kids to fully develop physically and mentally and help these
countries be self-sufficient? so many have graduated from aid, mexico, brazil, now we are focusing on the tough cases. with the right vaccines and philanthropists coming in with their business-like mentality, i think everybody -- every year, we will be smarter about how we do it. >> also we have big problems and when you say you solve them, that doesn't mean monitor 100%. we brought smoking down in a good part of this world dramatically. that will save an enormous number of lives. there is also places where the smoking industry has managed to get poor people who don't know that it is bad for their health to increase their rate of smoking. are you making progress? yes, should you beat is appointed? no. the gates foundation and bloomberg work together.
that is one of the biggest killers. smoking will kill one billion people this century. we have made progress and you have to admit that and look at what works. if you are not willing to acknowledge what works, you will not know how to help others. >> coming up, does someone trigger you to think about this area or is it something lifelong? >> i think he listens to his wife. [laughter] ♪
cities are where you pick up the garbage, where you educate the kids, where you bring down crime, where you and act health measures that you can actually see. what you can buy, how it is labeled, where you can use it, those kinds of things. if you take a look at most of the progress that has been making climate change, it has all been done at the city level. very little -- even in this country, when we are fighting guns, obesity, improving the school systems among those are not done at the federal and state level. those are done at the city level. >> bill, i have always wanted to know this from you. you have such a huge arsenal of resources. how do you pick the causes that you get behind? >> globally, i think equity is how poor children don't get to go up and achieve their potential. either they die or don't have enough food that their brain develops. we have decided that most of the money is going to go to that cause. fortunately there are things like new vaccines that will help those kids. we have seen the progress.
five percent of kids now die before the age of five. the prediction is the can get that down to 1.6% and match where the united states was in 1980. because it is this injustice, because a lot of these things weren't being done at the level they should be and once you pick an area, you develop expertise, you go out and see the people. that is going to be our lifetime work. >> does someone trigger you to think about this area or was it just something that -- >> i think he listens to his wife. [laughter] melinda has a lot of good ideas. maternal health, we have been doing a number of things under her guidance to try to advance the causes of getting the kids so they can get born and survive the first couple of days and the next five years. there were lots of good ideas.
you can't do everything, you have to decide what your core competencies are. like the bill and melinda foundation, and a lot of cases, they administer funds. in our case, we probably do more donating funds and having others administrate but we have a big group working on public health issues as well. >> when you were mayor, you had certain metrics by which you could measure the success of your own projects. when you give money, how do you measure success? >> not everything is going to work quickly. you have to have some patience. if you do something in the scientific world and it turns out to be a failure, that in some sense is a success because you don't have to go down that path again. in the world i came from, you are labeled a failure -- >> and it is all over the press. >> knowing what you're doing, measuring it, there are a lot of people going around trying to apply metrics. in some cases you have to do it
on faith. i know down the road this is going to help and i am willing to make that bet. give it the old college try. if it doesn't work, don't be stubborn but don't walk away too quickly either. >> coming up, these titans take their money and experience on the road. >> more and more of countries have great needs. >> there are places where there are no roads. ♪
foundation's work. what advice do you have for mike when he goes to africa? what do you think he should see there? >> my wife and daughter spending the week they're out on the farm -- heading down to see these projects is exciting. mike has been super generous on malaria research so i hope he will feel good going in and seeing the death rate is down, seeing what more has to be done and talking to the people on the ground about which tools are hard to deliver, which are easy to deliver. africa is fantastic. the cities need a lot of help. the research needs a lot of help. that is why both of us are drawn more and more of our philanthropy to help those needs. >> one of the places melinda is has 50,000 people per doctor
in america, we have 500 people per doctor. there are places where there are no roads so if you need an operation, you just die. we have been training people to do appendectomy's and cesareans which turn out to be relatively simple operations. without that, everybody who needs one of those is not going to survive. with a little help, you can't cure everything, but you can do a few things. >> what do you hope to do there? >> the organization i am focusing on is a group of cities that focus on climate change. they all have the same problems. they all have to educate and protect and improve the health of people. all through africa and latin america and asia and europe and america. we all have very similar problems. some of them are different magnitudes. some involve different diseases. you don't have to go very far from where we are sitting. just go to haiti and look at the terrible tragedy that has taken place. the world pledged all this money and yet they are still there
with diseases that i thought were ironic it. they are still living in tents and not having the ability to be in charge of their own destiny and feed their families. we have to get together and do things about it. >> many people watching this interview are big admirers of your work. i am curious to know who you admire. are there leaders that you look up to? >> we learn from each other. we are both really members of a group called the giving pledge. we share mistakes. there are people like george soros who has done really innovative work. we get to meet the scientists working on this stuff. maybe the most amazing other people out in the field who spend big parts of their life in africa taking these tools and making sure they get out there. also, you have to separate peoples political interest from their willingness to help.
there are some -- soros is clearly a liberal. the koch brothers are clearly conservative but they give enormous amount of money to hospitals. >> and you say give them credit for that. >> yes. you don't have to agree with everything. i don't know if i agree with either side but i think they all deserve credit. there are also a lot of people who aren't billionaires, who aren't even millionaires who write small checks or give their time. they work and lobby their elected officials to take government money and try to improve the health of everybody. they deserve credit as well. >> 80 that feeds in to what you were talking about. some people feel that their lives have improved. how can they care about the problems that you are talking about? >> the question is, are you willing to spend less than one percent on saving lives for a few thousand dollars per life. the european governments tend to
be about twice as generous on these eight issues as the united states is. they set a good example. even the u.k. is making increases. it is a political decision. if this cynicism, the lack of understanding that good things are happening is out there, the voters aren't going to be willing. recently in the budget compromise, polio got an extra $50 million a year. some progress has been made on something where we have very clear targets. in that case, by 2018, completely eradicating the disease. >> it is very self-serving as well. if you cure a disease elsewhere, you are not likely to catch that disease. if we live in a world where diseases can spread very easily, we want stability around the world, that is self-serving because our safety depends on a world that doesn't start wars and gets along. there is a compassionate part of
this. we have an obligation to stop genocide. you come back to right where we started with this interview. things are better. we can make a difference. you are not going to cure everything overnight or even ever but to sit back and say, it is hopeless, that is not true. one of the things in bill's letter, he points out the better educated people don't overpopulate the world. a lot of poor people have lots of kids because they don't think they will survive. there is not going to be a breadwinner to take care of them. if everybody is healthier, it leads to a much more rational world and let us deal with the real problems. >> coming up, the search for the new head of microsoft. >> has that ever hit your vision in the future of going back to microsoft full-time? >> [laughter] ♪
>> before he was a philanthropist, bill gates founded one of the most successful companies ever, microsoft, where he remains chairman. >> how involved are you on a day-to-day basis with microsoft? >> i am on the board. the board is doing some important work right now. the foundation is the biggest part of my time but then i put part-time work in to help as a board member. >> are you involved at all or how involved are you with the search for the new chief executive? >> the board is working on that. nothing new to say. >> we had the fortune of having the mayor come back to this company and we are happy to have him back at bloomberg. bill, has that ever hit your vision in the future of going back to microsoft full-time? >> my full-time work will be the foundation for the rest of my life. my wife and i are doing that.
i get to do it in depth. i am not going to change that. i will help out part-time. >> mike, tell me how you think. in the 12 years you have been in public office, technology, the industry itself has changed dramatically. new pioneers that follow in the footsteps of bill gates, give me your take on the state of technology. >> technology is an enabler. it is a tool. i think the basics really haven't changed. education, business, philanthropy is still about people looking each other in the eye and listening to each other working collectively. you have to be very careful and not think that technology is going to do everything for you. ethics matter, competency, the education of our kids is the most important thing. there is enormous changes in the job prospects for people at every level. some are going to lead us down a path of some very severe
problems. but alas, the first and most important thing is every kid getting a good education. in some parts of the world, they understand that. in some parts of the world, they don't. sadly in america, we don't seem to. we keep falling in these rankings. we are lucky to be in the top 30. that does not go well for our future. we have to pull together, get away from the partisan stuff and start devoting the resources we need cap a future. >> il, you are passionate as well about training our young people. particularly in computer science. >> i think education is top. mike and i think it is incredibly important. we have been willing to create some controversy saying, let's help the future be better. let's try out new approaches. the status quo is unsatisfactory. technology is going to help, particularly for that motivated learner, and how do you create the motivation broadly?
that is mostly a human problem and helping the teacher do it as best as possible. >> tell me what you think about the state of the technology industry now and how the new crop of leaders, how you see them. >> the rate of innovation is faster than ever. things like understanding speech and vision, taking argument of data and understanding that, big high-resolution screens on your walls in the office, at home -- we are really in a fantastic period where finding information and understanding information is going to get a lot better. that will lead to productivity. we can simulate things so that new product design and innovation can go faster. we see it in biology even, understanding complex systems and what drugs should be tried
out. i am a great believer that whether it is helping the poorest or helping the global economy, technology can solve a lot of problems. >> go back and look at what people predicted a few years ago and they were so far wrong. almost everything they predicted has been done. yet we are -- in the next two or three years, we will improve technology more than was done from the beginning of inventing electricity until today. >> exponential. >> there is no industry that is not going to have to adjust and change. some will do it successfully. some want. some are going to have better jobs, some are going to have to find ways to make sure they are included. we shouldn't walk away from it but it is going to be a serious problem and it is a problem around the world. particularly in the middle where an awful lot of automation is taking place, that gives you cheaper, better products but it also re-employs fewer people. we have to find a way to get everybody involved. >> thank you so much for joining us.